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Romeo celebrates their team win at the Macomb County Invitational. (David Dalton)

Cross Country

CROSS COUNTRY: Romeo claims top team honors at Macomb County Invitational VIDEO

The boys start their run at the Macomb County Invitational. (David S. Angell)

De La Salle boys first place finisher Mickey Davey. (David S. Angell)

Dakota's Bradley Bates inches past Romeo's Jacob Domagalski to place third. (David S. Angell)

Romeo’s boys cross country team is thankful that a race is three miles and not two.

“If you would have scored the meet at the two-mile mark we wouldn’t have won,” said Bulldogs coach Mike Buslepp after his team repeated as overall champion in the Macomb County Invitational Saturday at Stony Creek Metropark’s Baypoint Beach course.

“A lot of our guys battled back. Our fifth man (Noah Domagalski) was in the 50s when I counted at the two-mile mark so he passed at least 20 guys in the last mile. That kind of sealed the deal for us. It was a really close meet and Dakota ran well today, so tip your hat to them.”

Romeo finished with 75 points, Dakota had 83 and Lakeview took third with 93. Utica (111) and De La Salle (143) rounded out the top five.

Armada edged Richmond for the Division 2,3,4 championship, taking that title for the fifth straight season, even though the Blue Devils finished ahead of the Tigers in the overall team standings.

De La Salle junior Mickey Davey was the individual winner in the boys race for the second straight year. He covered the course in 15:51, beating runner-up Alec Toreki of Romeo by 30 seconds.

“I thought my guys ran tough,” Buslepp said. “We’ve had some tough weeks lately -- a lot of training, a lot of miles. A couple guys stepped up. Our top five was never the top five scenario in any meet this year.”

Buslepp admitted he was concerned about Dakota and Lakeview.

“(Dakota) gave us a really good challenge and Lakeview’s pack has been running really close all year,” Buslepp said. “My third through fifth runners have been inconsistent. We’ve been focusing on being more consistent. It was a little better today, but it has to improve even more if we’re going to get out of our extremely tough region. There are a lot of teams similar to us.”

Toreki and Jacob Domagalski, who was fourth overall, are the two veterans on the Bulldogs squad, but there are several newcomers.

“We were senior-loaded last year so a lot of guys who are scoring for us this year weren’t scoring for us last year or were sixth and seventh guys,” Buslepp said. “Now that their points matter, it’s a whole different level for them, a different level of stress.

“They’re dealing with it better now than at the start of the season. At the start you could see some scared faces. Now they’re rising to the challenge.”

Following Toreki and Jacob Domagalski in the Romeo scoring was Adam Fraeyman (15th), Chris Frazer (22nd) and Noah Domagalski (32nd).

Like the girls individual champion Gina Patterson of Lutheran North, Davey had to overcome an injury that hampered him during the track season.

“What he did this year was probably a better feat than last year because he was coming off a track season when he was hurt and didn’t finish off the season,” said Pilots coach Bob Busquaert.

“He ran better in track as a freshman than a sophomore. I tried to tell him that once he was healthy, it’s a clean slate. He has a new season ahead of him. He’s healthy and fit and ran his butt off today.”

It was the first major victory of the season for Davey, who has faced some tough competition because Busquaert strengthened De La Salle’s schedule with an eye toward qualifying for the state meet.

“This year we’ve run fewer races but more competitive ones,” Davey said. “I was second at (Oakland University) to a Waterford Mott guy and I took second to the state two-mile and mile champ at Jackson. It’s my first big win of the season so it feels good. I think I’m peaking at the right time.”

Davey expected to be challenged by the two top Romeo runners and ran his race accordingly.

“My strategy was to go out at a fast pace against the Romeo guys,” he said. “They have very good speed at the end of the race, so I didn’t want to be anywhere near them.

“I went out at a comfortable but hard pace and tried to lose them without taking too much out of myself.”

Busquaert felt that the county meet was a good tuneup for the rest of the season.

“In the Catholic League there’s an all-state runner and in the regional he’ll see Ben Hill (of Royal Oak) who is top five in the state,” Busquaert said. “He’ll have a tough go in those meets and in the state you have everyone there.”

Armada coach Rob Blume was happy with the Tigers’ performance, but he felt some empathy for Blue Water Area Conference rival Richmond.

“Considering the injuries we’ve had this year, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out today,” Blume said. “We use this as a target race. I feel bad for Richmond because they finished ahead of us overall.

“Our kids stepped up when they needed to. Three kids had PRs by more than 30 seconds -- Mason Rozgowski, Brendan Mantey and Dan Goubert -- and Alec Kownacki was 20 to 30 seconds faster than he has been this year. They wanted the five in a row. They didn’t want to be the team that lost the small school championship for us.”

Blume changed his training for the county meet this year.

“We’ve been heavy-legged the last couple years in the county meet so we tried something different,” he said. “Whether that penalizes us later on we’ll have to see, because another goal of ours is to move up in the league standings.”

Richmond coach Tom Brown has been searching for a consistent fifth runner all season.

“I thought my kids ran really well,” he said. “Nick Burg (ninth overall) came back from an injury setback and ran his best time of the year. Beau Brockett had a good time, Blake Iskra and (Xavier Knuckles) have been coming along every meet.

“We’re trying to get that fifth runner up there with them. I thought this would be our year to beat Armada but they pulled it away from us. They’re good guys, good coaches. Now we’ll see what happens at the league meet.”

TEAM SCORES: Romeo 75, Dakota 83, Lakeview 93, Utica 111,De La Salle 143,Stevenson 230, Sterling Heights 251, Eisenhower 276, Anchor Bay 282, Richmond and Chippewa Valley 314, L’Anse Creuse North 316, Lutheran North 365, Ford 393, Warren-Mott 401, L’Anse Creuse 408, Roseville and Fraser 450, Cousino 582, Warren Woods-Tower 582, Lake Shore 609, Parkway Christian, Center Line, South Lake and Lincoln had no team score.

INDIVIDUALS: 1, Mickey Davey, DLS, 15:51. 2, Alec Toreki, Rom, 16:21. 3, Bradley Bates, Dak, 16:44. 4, Jacob Domagalski, Rom, 16:44. 5, Matt Molinaro, DLS, 16:52. 6, Phil Mundt, CV, 16:53. 7, David Saporito, WM, 16:53.

8, William Saiz, Dak, 16:54. 9, Nick Burg, Rich, 16:57. 10, Thomas Michno, LCN, 17:04. 11, Andrei Rotar, Utica, 17:06. 12, Timmy Martin, LV, 17:06. 13, Brennan Buckner, Dak, 17:10. 14, Everett Ottoy, LV, 17:12.

15, Adam Fraeyman, Rom, 17:14. 16, Justin Ursaki, Utica, 17:15. 17, Chris Vancoillie, Eis, 17:16. 18, Nathan Holland, LV, 17:17. 19, Brendan Witt, LC, 17:22. 20, Nathan Schneider, Stev, 17:27. 21, Tyler Walters, LV, 17:29.

Last Updated: 10/12/2013 8:54:24 PM EST